Suggestion: Fame

All things Desktop Dungeons

Suggestion: Fame

Postby Galefury on Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:48 am

Introduce fame as a second currency. Get fame by beating difficult dungeons with different classes or by getting lots of badges. Spend it to make preparations free. If you want to comment please read the actual post, or at least the summary at the bottom. Sorry for the wall of text.

I have mentioned a few times that in many ways I prefer the progression mechanic of the freeware. Rewarding the player for beating the game and the challenge dungeons with many different classes has a few advantages over the new dungeon-centric model. The most obvious one is that it makes class balance less important. Gnome Warlord of MA is overpowered? So what. Monk of GG with Trisword is overpowered? Big deal. You still have to beat that dungeon with everyone else to get the most out of it. It is impossible (and IMO undesirable) to balance every class/race/god/preparation/dungeon combination, so this is a huge advantage. Also encouraging players to use many different classes is a good thing. If you only use a few classes you only see a tiny part of what the game has to offer. I think I have finally come up with a good way to reintroduce a bonus for using lots of classes into DD:

Gold rewards become pretty hollow once you have upgraded everything. The 350 from the taxidermist are usually enough to recoup your expenses and then some. So lets introduce another kind of currency: Fame. Beating a normal dungeon with a class for the first time gets you 2 fame, hard ones get you 5, vicious gives you 10 (beat Creeplight Ruins with a Priest ==> +5 fame. Then beat Ick Swamp with a priest ==> another 5 fame. Then beat Creeplight Ruins with a priest again ==> +0 fame. Then beat it with a Paladin ==> +5 fame.). Also you get two fame for every badge you got (maximum number of badges counts, not badge type, beating the dungeon with 3 badges as a monk ==> 6 extra fame, then beating it with 3 different badges as a monk ==> 0 extra fame, then beating it with any 4 badges as a monk ==> 2 extra fame, then beating it with 2 badges as a paladin ==> 4 extra fame).

So now we are famous. What can we do with that? For 100 fame (and no gold cost) you can upgrade any building to its ultimate level. This makes all preparations from this building free (for most buildings). At the point where you can get significant amounts of fame this wont actually matter. It is just another meaningless gold reward, deceptively hidden. But unlike a regular gold reward this actually removes the mental barrier that prevents you from simply using a preparation from that building for every single run, no matter how insignificant. This is actually nice to have, even if you really have more than enough gold to just buy the the prep every single time anyway. Note that preps being free instead of just cheaper is extremely important. A free bonus is psychologically vastly different from one that costs 5 gold. Just offering a discount would remove the main advantage without anything to show for it.

For certain buildings (guild, bank) some other bonus would have to be used. I'm thinking taking more gold with you for the bank, and 3 or 6 extra locker slots for the guild (and maybe a flat cost reduction that makes cheap items free, also items could magically reappear at the guild if you convert them instead of vanishing).

Also, if the silly building slot restriction is not removed from the game altogether, the ultimate upgrade could offer enough slots to fit all the preparations, in addition to the other effects.

Of course entirely different effects could work just as well. Additional preparations, things that affect dungeons in some other way, etc. But I think being able to earn something other than gold would be nice. And I think that experiencing the game fully should be possible without grinding for fame. So getting extra classes or other major gameplay features for fame would actually be bad IMO.

Advantages of this proposal:
First off, there's another upgrade for every building, so you aren't "done" until you got that. This vastly increased perceived game length. Instead of being "done" when you upgraded everything that can be upgraded with gold and have beaten each dungeon with any class now you would have to earn fame. This means you actually have to use many different classes, and figure out how to beat challenges with the different class abilities, like in the freeware.

Also the suggested bonus is not overpowered, it is in fact mostly psychological instead of actually affecting gameplay. When you get 100 fame, or even 50 fame, then you probably have enough gold to just buy all non-locker preps you want on every dungeon run you actually plan to win. But it is still meaningful. I often do trial runs with no preparations, to check out the map, and to figure out how to deal with certain challenges depending on class features. Sometimes I end up winning, sometimes I end up angry that I didn't take any preps, because that would have allowed me to win. And often I just don't take preps because I don't feel like spending gold on something I don't actually need to win. And often I end up thinking about the gold cost like it matters, even though it really doesn't at this point. This would save me the annoyance of having to actually think about whether a prep is worth it instead of simply taking the one that will allow me to win the easiest. Plus it's satisfying to fully upgrade stuff.

Finally, having a second harder to get currency is generally desirable IMO, because gold loses its meaning late game. I think something should be awarded for beating dungeons with different classes because of the advantages I initially mentioned (class balance matters less, players are encouraged to explore more of the game instead of sticking with the top 3 classes). What this currency can be spent on is pretty secondary, as long as it's meaningful in some way. Also it should not be necessary to beat all dungeons with all classes to get all the upgrades. The beta is already a much bigger game than the freeware and will only become bigger in time, so that would just be too much IMO. Having another currency is an easy way to provide a bonus for each challenge completion without "forcing" people to beat every dungeon with every class. Fame could also be used as a quest reward for certain late game challenge quests. But I think those might be better off with a reward that actually affects gameplay in a meaningful way.

Disadvantages, and why they aren't so bad:
One disadvantage that immediately comes to mind is that this would be some work to implement. Programming, flavor texts for the new building levels, thinking up a nice interface, etc. But compared to how much something like this would actually extend and improve the game I think this would be pretty efficient use of dev time.

A concern voiced by one of the devs regarding freeware-like progression was that it would be too much of a grind. I think this is simply not true. Sure, this would make you beat the same dungeon over and over, with different classes. The classes play different enough for this to be interesting however. I beat all challenge dungeons (except the boss hive, i was too lazy to make some serious attempts at beating that one and it was introduced after I was "done" with DD) with every single class in the freeware, and I had fun with every single one. It's what made me come back to DD for a few hours every once in a while, for over a year. I didn't grind, I simply played DD. A nice puzzle challenge is what I want from the game, and beating dungeons with different classes gives me that. And as long as this is optional and fame doesn't unlock any major game features people who feel like it is a grind can just skip it. Getting some feeling of progression would increase the fun for the people who actually want to play different classes and encourage them to keep coming back to DD.

By far the biggest problem is a psychological one IMO. If you are playing normal dungeons, earning 2 fame per win, seeing that you need 100 to actually do something with your fame might feel a bit like a slap in the face. To prevent this it should be clearly communicated to the player that fame is just a useless vanity thing, and being famous does not actually help you in a dungeon. The funny style of DD messages is actually pretty well suited for this. Also a quest that gives you an extra 50 fame upon reaching your first 50 could help alleviate this. If fame from normal dungeons feels too grindy it could also simply be removed. I think trying to beat a normal dungeon with as many badges as possible (with different classes) would be a very interesting challenge however, and I would be sad not to see it rewarded.

Players realizing that the bonus for fame is actually pretty useless is less important IMO. It certainly wouldn't bother me. Most of the challenge bonuses in the freeware were not all that meaningful either (taken together they were pretty powerful, but each individual bonus hardly made a difference). The feeling of progression is what it's about. Getting something for that win simply feels better than just having an extra green dot on the class list.

A final problem is that free preparations remove some of the advantages of the prep system. Preparations not being free means you invest something into your run, and want to actually complete it so you don't waste the preparations. Even if you don't get that lucky altar you want. Also the different gold cost is a way to balance preparations. But the gold cost becomes nearly meaningless once all buildings are upgraded. So this problem actually already exists in the current system, it would just be made slightly worse. If someone really wants to complete dungeons with many different classes he will have enough gold to get whatever preps he needs and scum for an altar, at least for the tougher class+challenge combinations.

Gold becomes meaningless late in the game, so I think another currency should be introduced. It should be awarded for completing challenge dungeons with different classes and for earning many badges at once (also per dungeon and class). Possibly also for other general challenges, but probably not for specific challenge quests. Most bonuses available by spending this currency should not affect gameplay much, so not getting fame still allows people to experience every facet of the game. I think one of the best bonuses of this kind are free preparations, enabled via an upgrade for each building. This is mostly psychologically meaningful (more upgrades, less inhibitions about using preparations) while not actually affecting game difficulty much (gold cost becomes meaningless anyway).

+ More game for completionists to complete
+ Class balance matters less
+ Players are encouraged to use different classes
+ Challenges are rewarded
+ Players can freely use preparations without too much thinking about whether it's worth it (it is)

- Takes time and effort to implement (but worth it IMO)
- Some players may be put off by fame being hard to get (but this can be mitigated)
- Price as a balancing factor for preparations removed (but gold becomes meaningless anyway)

I hope the devs like (and actually read ;) ) my suggestion, and maybe this will inspire them to do something even better.
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Re: Suggestion: Fame

Postby Esoteric on Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:56 pm

It's been said that qcf is tracking which classes you beat which dungeons with, and that this information will be available in some capacity. I think everyone wants that in, it was a standby in alpha. Further, it would be nice to have some reward for achievements in this regard. These are all good ideas, and I'm with you.

However, your "fame" implementation isn't ideal. Currently, in the end game, there's one mostly useless currency that mainly serves to keep you from bringing in 200 gold preparations every run. What you're suggesting would eventually leave you with two useless currencies that do literally nothing. That's not an ideal solution.

The community is behind you in wanting some, however small, inventive for winning dungeons with all the classes and a currency that has some value, even if its only use late game is buying vastly overpriced buffs (2k gold for one extra gold in each dungeon, booya!) or purely aesthetics (just upgraded my umbrella stand to level 28, nice!) I'm sure qcf won't leave us wanting.
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Re: Suggestion: Fame

Postby dislekcia on Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:38 am

Oh we definitely want to add in the sort of non-kingdom-building progression that this post is all about - I'm one of those DD players that just kept loading it up, seeing what I "still had to do" and playing whatever challenge was next. We get that that's a big deal for a lot of players and we know it's missing at the moment.

However, is there anything that you've suggested that couldn't be addressed with simple quest structures? What if level 3 of the Bank gives you a quest to beat dungeons X, Y and Z with all the different races you have available and gives you a permanent discount on its preparation costs for every dungeon you cross off the list like that? That sort of thing is much easier for us to do than it is to introduce an entirely new currency into the game ;)

So yes, we hear you and agree, we're just planning to use quests and gold instead of adding another currency. The idea of free preparations for some horribly grindy uber-quest sounds possibly interesting, as does the idea of just having a building that you can simply keep upgrading to see what it'll do next as a late-game gold sink...
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Re: Suggestion: Fame

Postby Galefury on Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:40 am

The problem I see with a quest structure is that it would never be able to cover all the cool stuff you can do. And if it ever came close the quest log would get incredibly cluttered. Having a universal reward currency with universal rules for obtaining it is a lot simpler for players than looking through a quest log with 20 entries to find out what you need to do to improve your Bank. Quests are great of course, I just think they are more suited to specific challenges like "beat the rock garden with one class from each building" or "beat havendale bridge with all races" or even "beat the crypt with a rogue" than to an open ended challenge like "defeat as many dungeons as you can with as many classes as you can" and "get as many badges as you can". Having both would be best (yet again the alpha did something very very right).

Also it is very hard to capture the flexibility of the alpha with quests. When I didn't feel like playing a specific dungeon or class right now I could simply play a different combo. But when you are at 4/5 requirements for finishing a quest you are kind of pushed into finally biting the bullet and playing that class you don't really like. The last few open challenges in the alpha were a lot less fun for me than the earlier ones because of this. Just having three dungeon/class combinations to chose from, all of which are kind of annoying (I think two of them involved the gorgon...) just wasn't as fun as picking a combo you currently feel like playing.

Another problem is that quests run out at some point, long before anyone manages to beat all dungeons with all classes. Randomly generated quests would help, but I'm pretty sure those would often suck. The Taxidermist wanting certain trophies is cool, but I wouldn't really want more of that. This is why I think designing and implementing some kind of universal reward system for general game completion and other open challenges would be pretty good use of development time.

The problem with using gold for somewhat grindy late game upgrades is that it overlaps with preparations. Once I was finally freed from the need to make more money for kingdom upgrades I started using and experimenting with preparations a lot more, and the game is much more interesting and fun as a result (also easier, loving the avatar's mark, but the vicious dungeons almost make up even for that). I think gold becoming fairly irrelevant late game is actually a good thing. This is what gave me the idea for the free preparations suggestion. If gold not really mattering for preparation choice feels this good, why not make it matter less?

Gold is also primarily earned from trophy rewards. 250 gold for completing the crypt for the first time is not a lot compared to 1050 gold from the trophy being in demand and using bet on boss. Trophy sales don't encourage you to do anything you haven't done before, and they don't encourage you to challenge yourself. They encourage you to stick with something that lets you win fairly reliably, so you get your gold. This is simply not good. Like I said, I like gold not being terribly relevant late game. It's great for slowing down kingdom progression and making players actually think about how they can win instead of scumming for a nice monster composition or a lucky altar. But gold sucks for promoting interesting gameplay in the late game.

Esoteric's point is a good one though. Having two useless currencies instead of one would be bad. Jamestown's Ducats are a great example of a useless ingame currency, all they do is take up screen space for no reason. If some sort of second currency or reward is introduced then his idea of an infinitely upgradeable building with really minor rewards for upgrading is great. But I don't think it's a good idea for gold, because as I said, gold sucks in the late game, and it becoming less relevant makes the game more fun. Maybe late game gold can somehow be fixed, but I cant think of a way that keeps the early game benefits intact.
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Re: Suggestion: Fame

Postby PeaceChaser on Thu Aug 11, 2011 2:39 am

Galefury, dude, I could have used your help last semester. I had to write 4-6 page essays every Wednesday for 6 weeks.

Seriously though, there are some good points. I think it would be in QCF's best interest to consider how the alpha was built rather than slave away making content-filled quests. Quests are fun, but they are quick to complete. And they have to be individually built by the dev's, which I imagine takes a while.

The benefit of the alpha was that they designed one dungeon, and we played it 18 friggin' times because that's how many classes they gave us. Less work for them, more sweet, simple, mindless challenges for us. Also, more focus can be put on balance, which, in my opinion, is the most important aspect of the game. I know I've said this before, so sorry for the repeat.

The alpha dungeons were fantastic too. I LOVED the factory. So ingenious. Even though you could smoke a lvl 9 armor at level 1 and almost guarantee getting level 10 quickly, the two bosses were still very, very difficult. Each of the classes required a slightly different strategy, as each of the 3-4 monsters had different strengths and weaknesses.

The more complex this game becomes, the more I worry about the simplicity and impeccable, simplistic balance of the alpha being lost. At the same time, I feel like the alpha really couldn't be improved upon much without really changing the game like it has been changed.
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